Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum / by Todd Henson

Working engine outside the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum (7 image HDR)

While visiting Portland, Maine, my father and I stopped at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum, off Fore Street, just down from the Portland Ocean Gateway, where cruise ships dock off Casco Bay. This was a small, but very interesting museum that also included a ride on their narrow gauge train.

Serenade of the Seas docked in Portland, Maine, with statue of George Cleeve (5 image HDR)

The ride began at the museum, where we had good views of Serenade of the Seas, a large cruise ship at dock. The train took us down to the Portland Ocean Gateway, where passengers from the cruise ship would enter and exit Portland. Some of the folks on the train were from the ship. From the dock area the train reversed direction, passed by the museum, and then along the coastline paralleling the Eastern Promenade Trail, through Fort Allen Park. Around Fish Point we had very foggy views of Fort Gorges in the bay. One minute we could see the Fort, the next it was obscured in fog. The train continued past East End Beach where we saw someone swimming in the cold water, and through the Eastern Promenade, stopping at the old railroad bridge. We were able to disembark from the train and walk around the area. The old bridge had crossed the water to the right side of the Burnham & Morrill Company factory, known for their B&M Baked Beans.

Looking through planks at old railroad bridge with Burnham & Morrill Company factory on distant shore

Old railroad bridge with Burnham & Morrill Company factory on distant shore

After we boarded the train it made its way back through the parks along the Eastern Promenade to the museum grounds. The view continued to change the entire ride, fog moving in and out. Some of the folks on the train were annoyed by this, but I found it fascinating to watch and photograph.

Luggage display in the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum

Interior of passenger train with stove (3 image HDR)

After the train ride we spent some time in the actual museum. It was small, but had a lot packed in the small space, including several full size narrow gauge train cars we were able to walk through. There wasn’t a lot of light in the cars, but their interiors were very interesting, so I did the best I could to capture what I was seeing. I had to hand hold the camera since I didn’t have the tripod with me, so I raised the ISO on my camera to let me use faster shutter speeds, and captured a number of image sequences where I adjusted the exposure (shutter speed) between each image, holding the camera as still as possible between them. I knew I would take each image sequence and combine it into a single high dynamic range (HDR) image, where I could better show the interior as I saw it. The camera just wasn’t capable of capturing what my eyes could see. One day soon cameras will have better dynamic range than our eyes, but for today we need to either decide what we want to compromise on, or capture multiple images and merge them into HDR. I don’t use this technique often, but it is fun and useful every once in a while. I worked to keep the images looking as natural as I could, trying to avoid the over-processed look of many HDR images.

Another interior of passenger train with stove (3 image HDR)

Interior of passenger train with individual seats (3 image HDR)

Horizontal view of passenger train interior (3 image HDR)

When we visited the museum it was located in Portland, but they told us it would soon be relocated to the town of Gray. If you’re interested in visiting be sure to check the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum website for the current status and location.

Train engine inside Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum